Filmmaker Chris Ray has made a career out of capturing epic shots.
From his beginnings in the skate industry to his work on the viral hit ‘Pipedream’ which saw Robbie Maddison surf waves on a dirt bike in Tahiti and garnered 30 Million views, Ray’s run and gun style of filming has made him successful. But what began with skating has quickly expanded into work with companies like DC Shoes, NFL Films, Ford, GoPro, ESPN and many more.
“I do so much outside of skateboarding now – commercials and so many other things,” explains Ray, who shot his first skate video in eighth grade. “This reminds me of where I came from. I owe a lot to skateboarding.”
Ray returned to his roots to compete in the X Games: Real Street 2019, an all-street skateboarding video contest. His one-minute video and collaboration with skater Chase Webb earned Ray his second gold and the fifth overall medal of his X Games career.
“I’ve always enjoyed doing Real Street because it’s the only contest that really gives the skater and the filmmaker a platform and an opportunity to win a gold medal,” says Ray. “I think that’s pretty rare anywhere. This video took us about six months to shoot. Chase was the underdog of this contest, so to walk away with a Gold feels even better.”
In the winning video, Ray used a long lens to capture ‘next level’ tricks on rails that were kinked, curved, and huge! Or in the words of one commenter, “Someone call Master Splinter… I found a Shredder.” Ray’s cinematography let Webb and the skating speak for itself.
“It’s a 60-second edit, but I try and make it feel as if it’s a full video,” says Ray. “It has a start; it has a finish. I try to work around the skater or the athlete and have my equipment ready to go. Everything needs to be pretty run and gun. I would hate to go on a shoot and say ‘oh wait, hold on guys. I need to get this ready.’ I just want to be ready to go.”
Being ready to respond to events around him has established Ray as a highly sought after filmmaker. While he continues to lead the video strategy for major skate brand, DC Shoes, Ray is now filming with many companies, but one he’s idolized for a long time, NFL Films. In his kit, he trusts products he knows will be ready to perform when he needs it. In Ray’s run and gun kit, he includes a RED Epic, Core batteries, and for shots that need a long lens and ultra-stability, he chooses the Cartoni Focus 22.
“The Focus 22 is my go-to tripod,” says Ray. “That’s important to me because a lot of the cameras I’m using these days, like the Red Epic, are not very good for going handheld for skateboarding. When I’m using a long lens, that’s when the Focus 22 comes in. It’s perfect. I remember when I switched from a bad tripod to a Cartoni, and it was just like my camera was floating in clouds. That’s what you want. You don’t want something that is fighting your shot or is going jerk mid-trick. Using a tripod that moves seamlessly with my camera has been huge for me. “
Having the right gear helps Ray gets the shot, but he credits his success to doing what he loves and taking chances.
“It’s funny because I always want to say no when I’m approached with a new opportunity because the scariest thing in the world is when you have the opportunity to realize your dream. You have to be brave enough to seize those opportunities and take those chances.